a chance encounter on the metro

The day started like many of my other commutes. Up at 5, out the door at 5.20, on the train at 5.50, train pulling away from the station at 6.

I slept fitfully on the two-hour train ride, relishing the chilly walk from the Amtrak station over to the Metro station. The brisk morning air counteracted the dour visages that greeted me on the Metro train platform. It took about eight minutes for my train to arrive, and I entered the second car from the front at the forward door, dutifully following the disembodied voice to “move to the center of the car.”

When I reached the center of the car, there she was, walking to the center from the rear door of the car. Lightning struck and a thunderbolt clapped when our eyes met, and everybody else on the train faded to a muted, mottled gray. All sound faded and the only thing I could hear was her voice as she said, “I’m Simone. Who are you?”

“Anthony,” I said, as sure of it as I was anything else in my entire life. “My friends call me Tony.”

“Well, good morning, Tony,” she said, her soft, blue eyes wrapping around my very soul and tearing it out. In an instant, we became one. I was Michael Corleone, she was Apollonia Vitelli. I was Romeo, she was Juliet. Lancelot and Guinevere. Paris and Helena. Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. Eloise and Abelard. Napoleon and Josephine. In the entire history of love and lovers, never had two souls connected so completely, merged so quickly.

“But I’m married,” she said.

“I’m married, too, and I have kids,” I countered.

“Oh my God, so do I. I completely forgot my kids,” she said.

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“I’ll ride the train with you to wherever you’re going, just … just don’t leave me behind. I couldn’t bear it,” I said.

We rode the train for hours, neither of us caring any more about family, friends, jobs or any of those important, life-defining things. All that mattered was that we were together. We discussed how difficult it would be to break our spouses’ hearts, disrupt our children’s lives – and yet, none of it mattered. None of it. All that mattered was the future – our future, together.

We discussed where to go and settled on Denver. She has family there, I have friends. It’s a good city, clean and modern and with lots of job opportunities. It’s in the middle of the country, sort of, so once the kids got used to the idea of us being together, it would be easy for them to visit.

“Stadium-Armory,” the train driver droned. “Last chance to transfer to the Orange and Silver lines.”

She looked deep into my eyes and said, “I at least have to go get my things from work, and tell them I quit.”

“Me, too,” I added.

“What stop do you need?” she asked.

“Court House,” I said. “Orange line.”

“I need a Blue line train,” she said, a single tear rolling down her cheek.

“There’s nobody else at this station. You’ll be lonely. I’ll wait with you,” I said. “I’ll wait with you.”

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“No, that’s OK,” she said, sadly. “I have a book. I’ll be OK.”

She broke our gaze to ruffle in her purse, finding what she was looking for and drawing a thick paperback from its depths.

“Pride and Prejudice?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “I just love Jane Austen. I was even in a production of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ in college.”

“Is that so?” I asked as I shoved her in front of the train speeding through the station at that very moment.

NO PASSENGERS, the sign on its marquee read.

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lies, damn lies and statistics

At this point, about one month into the Trump Administration, I’m kind of beyond caring how good or bad a job Donald Trump can or will do. I’m pissed, and I can’t hold it in any longer.

He’s a liar. A lying liar what lies. AND HE LIES ABOUT STUPID SHIT.

On 16 Feb 2017, Trump gave a press conference to announce his new nominee for Secretary of the Department of Labor. He had to do this because his first choice withdrew from consideration after he figured out there wasn’t enough support in committee to get him to a full Senate vote. This is politics, it happens. Not really that big a deal.

The press conference, however, went on… and on… AND ON for 77 minutes. The thing I find myself focusing on is the one massively, obviously disprovable lie he told – and has been telling for weeks.

First he said he won the biggest electoral margin since Reagan.

Wrong.

Then he said he won the biggest electoral margin of any Republican since Reagan.

WRONG.

Here’s the cold, hard facts on every election from Reagan’s first in 1980 through the one we just had in 2016.

  • 2016
    • Trump (R) – 304
    • HR Clinton (D) – 227
    • Ratio of Victory – 1.3:1
  • 2012
    • Obama (D) – 332
    • Romney (R) – 206
    • 1.6:1
  • 2008
    • Obama – 365
    • McCain – 173
    • 2.1:1
  • 2004
    • GW Bush – 286
    • Kerry – 251
    • 1.1:1
  • 2000
    • GW Bush – 271
    • Gore – 266
    • 1.018:1
  • 1996
    • WJ Clinton – 379
    • Dole – 159
    • 2.4:1
  • 1992
    • WJ Clinton – 370
    • GHW Bush – 168
    • 2.2:1
  • 1988
    • GHW Bush – 426
    • Dukakis – 111
    • 3.8:1
  • 1984
    • Reagan – 525
    • Mondale – 13
    • 40.4:1
  • 1980
    • Reagan – 489
    • Carter – 49
    • 10:1

There you have it folks – cold, hard, historical facts. Reagan’s narrowest margin of victory still saw him pull down 91% of the electoral votes. Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton doesn’t even crack the top 10 lowest margin-of-victory contests. Trump got 56.5% of the electoral votes, more than Kennedy (56.4%) but less than Truman (57%). Barack Obama won the closer of his two elections, in 2012, with 61.7% of the electoral votes.

The last Republican to win before Trump was George W. Bush, both of whose victories are in the lowest 10 margin-of-victory elections; the hotly contested 2000 election that was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court saw him win with 50.37% of the electoral votes. In his “big” victory in 2004, he got 53.16% of the electoral votes.

The list of presidents who won a higher percentage of electoral votes than Donald Trump reads like a who’s-who list of presidents you never heard of: Van Buren, Garfield, Harrison, Buchanan, McKinley, Polk, Taft, Grant, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover and Pierce.

Quick – can you name one thing – ONE THING – that William Henry Harrison did in office other than die less than 31 days into his presidency? No, you can’t! AND HE WON 79.6% OF THE ELECTORAL VOTES!!

Donald Trump won a higher percentage of the electoral votes than precisely five presidents in the last 100 years: George W. Bush (twice), John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon (1st election), Jimmy Carter and Woodrow Wilson. That’s it. Literally every other president since the 1916 election has won with a higher percentage electoral votes than Trump.

Just so you know, other than George Washington – who got 100% of the electoral votes both times he was elected – the only other presidents to come close to Ronald Reagan’s crushing defeat of Walter Mondale (525 to 13) were James Monroe (1792, 231 to 1), Franklin Roosevelt (1936, his 2nd election, 523 to 8), and Richard Nixon (1972, his 2nd election, 520 to 17). No other president won with a greater than 95% take in the Electoral College.

Every president since Reagan except for GW Bush got a higher percentage of electoral votes than Donald Trump did. There is no disputing these facts. I cannot help but wonder that if Trump is willing to lie about something so quickly and easily disprovable, what else is he willing to lie about?

 

2016 looking good for metal

It’s been a banner year for metal so far – and it’s only just now the end of February!!

—Black Sabbath on (farewell) tour & releases EP “The End” (though they’re only selling it at the concerts)
—Megadeth releases LP “Dystopia”
—Dream Theater releases LP “The Astonishing”
—Prong releases LP “X (No Absolutes)” and makes up for their dreadful album of covers in 2015 in a big way
—Anthrax releases LP “For All Kings”
—Voivod releases EP “Post Society”

We still have albums to look forward to coming from:

—Metallica; possibility of total suckfest 75% (yes, “Death Magnetic” was good – but “Lulu”? That album SUCKED – even for Metallica!)
—Tool; 1st album in 10 years thanks to legal issues getting resolved
—Deftones; last 2 albums were excellent
—Gojira; the best French metal band you’ve never heard of

All of this coming on the heels of a decent year of metal that was 2015:

—Baroness released LP “Purple” – not as good as “Yellow/Green” or even “Red,” but still better than 95% of anything put out in the last few years
—Disturbed announced the end of their 4-year hiatus & released LP “Immortalized”
—Fear Factory released LP “Genexus”
—Soulfly released LP “Archangel”
—Ghost dropped the “B.C.” from their name and released LP “Meliora,” their best album to date
—Motorhead released LP “Bad Magic”
—Pentagram released LP “Curious Volume”
—Iron Maiden released LP “The Book of Souls”
—Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats released LP “The Night Creeper”
—Slayer released LP “Relentless”
—Sevendust released LP “Kill the Flaw”
—Black Tide released LP “Chasing Shadows”
—Stryper released LP “Fallen”

There was some suckitude in the last few months as well, as the metal world lost some hard chargers and legends: AJ Pero (Twisted Sister) died on tour with Adrenline Mob; Lemmy & Phil Taylor (Motorhead) both died, Lemmy within days of his birthday; and in a tragedy that reminded many of us of what happened in Rhode Island in 2003, 4 of the 5 members of Goodbye to Gravity died along with 59 other people after the band’s pyro touched off a raging fire in a nightclub in Bucharest. They were celebrating the release of their (now final) LP, “Mantras of War.”

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ChibaSplaining – Caucus vs. Primary

With the 2016 presidential election campaign season FINALLY getting started this year (koff!), I thought it worth discussing the differences between a caucus and a primary.  (I asked seven people today if they knew the difference – and they didn’t.)

Both a caucus and a primary are ways for states to decide who is going to run for president in the general election.  Each results in the selection or assignment of delegates that will speak for a certain candidate at a political party gathering later in the year, generally in the summer.

There are no hard and fast rules, so much of what I’m putting down here are generalizations.  There will always be exceptions to these rules.

CAUCUS

  • Originated in the American Colonies before the United States existed
  • Voting is public, sometimes by people simply raising their hands
  • Only registered voters may participate
  • Registered voters may only vote for candidates from their party
  • Often benefits candidates with highly organized volunteer groups supporting them due to the public nature of the voting
  • Caucus states/territories:  AK, CO, HI, IA, KS, ME, MN, NV, ND, WY, American Samoa, Guam, Virgin Islands

PRIMARY

  • Came into common practice in the early 1900s
  • Voting is by secret ballot
  • Only registered voters may participate
  • Types of primaries
    • Open Primary – any registered voter (including Independents) can vote for any candidate
    • Semi-Open Primary – any registered voter (including Independents) can vote, but they must vote on a party-specific ballot
    • Closed Primary – registered voters may only vote for candidates from their party; this excludes registered Independent voters
    • Semi-Closed Primary – registered voters may only vote for candidates from their party; Independents may vote, but they must vote on a party-specific ballot

The reason for the caucus and primary process is to assign delegates to candidates for counting at the party convention in the summer of the election year.  The candidate with the most delegates becomes that party’s candidate for president.  Some states assign delegates proportionally – that is, if a candidate receives 20% of the primary votes, that candidate gets assigned 20% of the state’s delegates and the rest are assigned based on how many votes the other candidates got.  Other states assign delegates in a winner-take-all fashion; if there are seven candidates and the top candidate receives 20% of the votes, that candidate gets 100% of the state’s delegates and the rest of the candidates get none.  This delegate variance is reflected in the Electoral College, which is the state-level mechanism that determines who wins a presidential election.

Voting is the only real power the common citizen has in the United States, and it is a right guaranteed by the Constitution.  I encourage every citizen of voting age (currently 18 or older) to get educated about the candidates and vote in every election possible.  Politicians talk endlessly about change this and change that, but the only people who can truly put change into motion are voters.

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the year in movies – 2015

In my quest to reduce discretionary spending as I save up to buy a house, I didn’t go to many movies this year.  As a result, I saw very few new movies.  Perhaps not coincidentally, they were all movies my daughter wanted to see.  Here’s the whole list:

  • Jurassic World
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

In addition, I saw two other new movies (that is, released in 2015) on Netflix:

  • Infini
  • The Wrecking Crew

Other  than Infini, they were all good.  Infini was OK – clearly a riff on Alien, and not a great one.

Star Wars was the best of the bunch, no doubt.

There were a bunch of movies I wanted to see but didn’t – and won’t until they hit Netflix.  I figure I saved myself at least $350-400 and close to 100 hours of time by not going to see all these movies in the theater:

The Hateful Eight
The Big Short
The Martian
Spectre
The Man from UNCLE
Trainwreck
Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Vacation
Black Mass
Spy
San Andreas
400 Days
Focus
Tomorrowland
Straight Outta Compton
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Mr. Holmes
Chappie
Mortdecai
Child 44
Woman in Gold
He Never Died
Diablo
McFarland, USA
Truth
Cop Car
Rock the Casbah
Synchronicity
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Runner
Selma
Spotlight

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people George Carlin can do without

(from his 1988 album, What Am I Doing in New Jersey?)

  • Guys in their 50s named Skip
  • Anyone who pays for vaginal jelly with an Exxon credit card
  • An airline pilot who has on two different shoes
  • A proctologist with poor depth perception
  • A pimp who drives a Toyota Corolla
  • A gynecologist who wants my wife to have three or four drinks before the examination
  • Guys with a lot of small pins on their hats
  • Anyone who mentions Jesus more than 300 times in a two-minute conversation
  • A dentist with blood in his hair
  • Any woman whose hobby is breast-feeding zoo animals
  • A funeral director who says “Hope to see you folks again real soon!”
  • Girls who get drunk and throw up at breakfast
  • A man with only one lip
  • A Boy Scout master who owns a dildo shop
  • People who actually know the second verse to “The Star-Spangled Banner”
  • Any lawyer who refers to the police as “the Federales”
  • A cross-eyed nun with a bullwhip and a bottle of gin
  • A brain surgeon with “BORN TO LOSE” tattooed on his hands
  • Couples whose children’s names all start with the same initial
  • A man in a hospital gown directing traffic
  • A waitress with a visible infection on her serving hand
  • People who have large gums and small teeth
  • Guys who wear the same underwear until it begins to cut off the circulation to their feet
  • Any man whose arm hair completely covers his wristwatch

5 best Bond songs

It’s the 50th anniversary of the all-time #1 best of the James Bond movie themes, “Goldfinger,” sung by Shirley Bassey.  With another Bond film on the horizon (Spectre, possibly Daniel Craig’s last outing as our erstwhile spy), it’s a good time to look at the best Bond theme songs from the series’ history.

  1.  “Goldinger,” by Shirley Bassey.  Not only is this one of the best Bond films, but you just can’t top this tune by one of the most fantastic crooners to grace the screen with her voice.  Wow… just… wow.
  2. “Live and Let Die,” by Paul McCartney & Wings.  I’m not a big fan of the Roger Moore films, and this one is – outside of Yaphet Kotto’s presence – a stinker.  McCartney’s theme song, however, is an absolute winner.  Dramatic, powerful and even includes a tip of the hat to reggae.
  3. “For Your Eyes Only,” by Sheena Easton.  Not a bad outing from Roger Moore, and a damn fine theme song from a singer who could have been a Bond girl in her own right.
  4. “You Know My Name,” by Chris Cornell.  I was pretty excited when Casino Royale came out, and very much looked forward to Daniel Craig’s interpretation of James Bond.  I wasn’t disappointed, and Cornell’s powerful voice and cool instrumentation made for a top-notch theme song.
  5. “Thunderball,” by Tom Jones.  In this case, the singer outshines the song.  It’s tough to beat Jones doing best at what he does best, and while this wasn’t one of the best Sean Connery films, the song is fantastic.

Honorable Mentions:  “Diamonds Are Forever,” by Shirley Bassey (she did more, but this is the only other good song among them) and “A View to a Kill,” by Duran Duran.